Websites for Collaboration

It goes without saying, the days of web 1.0 where information was a one-way street are over. Now, we live in a world where communication happens bi-directionally in the blink of an eye – from a tweet to a post and the instant “like”.  “The United States is now several years into what promises to be a transformation of the media. It is driven by rapid expansion of the number of people and organizations newly engaged as authors, editors and publishers.” (Beckman Center for Internet & Society).  Clay Shirky, consultant on social and cultural effects of the internet, expressed: “These changes will transform the world everywhere. Groups of people come together to accomplish something, which is to say everywhere.” (Chapter 1, Here Comes Everybody).  In essence, digital innovation, new media and social media tools represent an opportunity to engage with people in real-time anytime, and anywhere. While websites and listservs are a great way of communicating, these tools only represent a subset of tools that can facilitate collaboration.

Before I share a couple of examples of great collaboration websites, here are the top 5 characteristics of websites according to Mansfield’s How-to Guide For Non-Profits:

  1. Easy-to-Use Content Management System (CMS): Software program for designing, editing and maintaining a website. Check out: and  Google sites has some basic website templates but the designing experience was very clunky and hard to edit the text on the template.
  2. Good Writing: Content is clear and stays focused by communicating ideas in 2-3 sentence paragraphs. Keeps the fluff and ramblings far, far away.
  3. Well-Designed Graphics and Photos: We’ve all heard a picture is worth a thousand words but don’t overuse them. Too many photos can clutter the look of your website and distract from the utility of your content.
  4. Simple, Consistent Navigation: Have a primary navigation across the top of the page and access to secondary pages on the left or right margin.
  5. A Website Address: Invest in one of these for as little as $10 a year.  Having one now goes a long way later.

Best-practices for collaborative websites:

  1. San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership ( SFHIP is a cross-sector initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of all San Franciscans. SFHIP combined into one aligned framework the efforts of three successful community health improvement collaborators: San Francisco’s non-profit hospitals and their Community Benefits Partnership (CBP) and Building a Healthier San Francisco (BHSF) projects; the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of California (CTSI), San Francisco, which supported the first phase of SFHIP; and the San Francisco Department of Public Health and its community health improvement process. It features a “report-card” like dashboard displaying a variety of health statistics in San Francisco.  It also features Promising Practices portal where you can both submit content or search for resources.


2. General Assembly ( A global community of individuals empowered to pursue work they love, by offering full-time immersive programs, long-form courses, and classes and workshops on the most relevant skills of the 21st century. The site is a great example of simplicity and easy to use buttons for enrolling.




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